State Rep. Jesse Kremer, R-Kewaskum, plans to re-introduce legislation that will allow concealed weapons to be carried on UW System and technical college campuses in Wisconsin. UW-Madison students have begun to take action to oppose the legislation before it is voted on.
Several students, mostly members of Associated Students of Madison’s Coordinating Council, met with Vice Provost for Student Life and Dean of Students Lori Berquam, who said she believes the legislation is going to pass. Kat Kerwin, the UW-Madison College of Letters & Science representative on ASM Student Council and vice chair of ASM’s Legislative Affairs Committee, has spearheaded efforts relating to concealed carry during her time with the committee. The meeting sparked her latest projects surrounding the issue.
Kerwin and other committee members created a petition that has been circulating on social media since Dec. 3 and had 1,100 signatures as of Dec. 9. They will partner with the Wisconsin Anti-Violence Effort, a statewide non-profit organization, to gather more signatures before the legislation is voted on.
“We're going to have a lobbying day and bring all those signatures to the Capitol and show [legislators] that these are the people that don’t want this to happen,” Kerwin said.
The group will also hold a day of action on Dec. 15. On this day, they will encourage everyone to call their legislators and explain why they do not want campus carry to happen. Kerwin said they will send a script out for people to reference when making these calls. They will have tables set up at Gordon Commons and Union South on this day as well to raise awareness of the legislation.
Kerwin has been in touch with members of the University of Texas at Austin student government, who recently passed a bill to halt campus carry, which she plans to replicate. She connected with UT-Austin student Jessica Jin who started a campaign called Cocks Not Glocks.
According to Kerwin, Cocks Not Glocks aims to fights absurdity with absurdity. Participating individuals are given a sex toy, which they attach to their backpacks and carry around campus, which is meant to pose the question: “If you don’t like us having toys in class, why should we be allowed to have guns in class?” Kerwin is expecting a shipment of 200 toys and plans to make the effort toward establishing a registered student organization in the spring semester.
Kremer has publically said that his goal is to have guns in all K-12 institutions, as well as college campuses. Kerwin said because of this, the legislation is not stopping even if it does not pass for a second time. She predicts the bill will be introduced on Jan. 19, shortly after UW-Madison students return to campus after winter break.
“I don’t think people know that campus carry is even an option on the table,” Kerwin said. “The Republicans are [being] sneaky right now and planning to introduce the legislation and being quiet about because they know students are going away for break … they know it will have widescale opposition.”
UW-Madison College Democrats released a statement Tuesday that said they stand in opposition of the bill and of the representatives that support it. It said that passage of the bill will put students’ lives at risk, force faculty to move to different institutions and put an end to open debates in classes due to students’ fears of speaking out when weapons are present.
“The risk of passing campus carry far outweighs its supposed benefits,” College Democrats Chair Augie McGinnity-Wake said in the statement. “Guns in the classroom do not make the vast majority of students feel safer; in fact, studies show that the presence of a gun in a room makes people act with more aggression.”